China demonstrated defense diplomacy with multinational peacekeeping exercise

U.N. peacekeeping military exercise on the outskirts of Zhumadian, Henan province, China
United Nations peacekeeping military exercise on the outskirts of Zhumadian, Henan Province, China
Armored vehicles with the flags of the United Nations and China are seen on the outskirts of Zumadian, Henan Province, China, during a multinational UN peacekeeping exercise with troops from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Pakistan, Mongolia and Thailand . 2021. Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rollins

September 15, 2021

by Yu Lun Tian

QUESHAN, China (Reuters) – China’s armed forces on Wednesday concluded their first multinational peace exercise, showcasing their combat prowess with drones and mine-clearing robots, seeking to present a more benign image.

As the Asian giant modernizes and strengthens its military by investing hundreds of billions of dollars annually in its defense budget, it has also attempted to reassure other nations that its military is a force for good, a threat. Not there.

About 1,000 soldiers from China, Pakistan, Mongolia and Thailand took part in a 10-day exercise at the People’s Liberation Army Training Base in Queshan County in Henan’s central province, although the majority of the troops appeared to be Chinese.

The exercise, named “Shared Destiny 2021”, underscored China’s position as a “staunch defender of world peace and international order”, Senior Colonel Lu Jianxin, a Chinese military expert on peacekeeping, told reporters at the base.

Soldiers in front of a small group of journalists carry out a clash between terrorists and peacekeepers in the conflict-torn fictional country of Karana.

The exercise was based on a 2016 incident in Mali when Chinese peacekeepers were attacked and one of them was killed.

Soldiers also repeated a scene based on another 2016 incident in South Sudan, when peacekeepers had to protect civilians captured in fighting between factions.

In another scenario, drones buzzed the battlefield to find bombs that, when found, were dispensed by robots. Drones also masqueraded as loudspeakers and issued multi-coloured leaflets urging people to stop fighting.

The exercise was also a showcase for Chinese military hardware. Foreign soldiers trained with Chinese weapons and other equipment.

Colin Koh, Defense Research Fellow at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said, “The use of Chinese equipment by foreign troops can be seen as a sign of increased military interoperability … and for the purposes of marketing them to foreign armies. from as well.”

China has repeatedly sought to address concerns in neighboring countries and move forward about its military intentions, even as it conducts regular exercises in Chinese-claimed Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea. does.

China prides itself on being the largest contributor of peacekeepers among the major powers, as represented by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

As the second largest financial contributor, China accounted for 15% of total spending for UN peacekeeping operations in 2020.

Expert Lu said, since 1990, it has sent 50,000 troops to participate in 25 peacekeeping missions globally, built or fixed 17,000 km (10,600 mi) of roads and more than 300 bridges, and mined 18,000. has been removed.

(Reporting by Yu Lun Tian; Editing by Ben Blanchard, Robert Birsel)

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